Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crime comedies amidst the financial market turmoil. Two cosy crime classics:

Jeffrey Archer:
Not a penny more, not a penny less

One million dollars - that's what Harvey Metcalfe, lifelong king of shady deals, has
pulled off with empty promises of an oil bonanza and instant riches. Overnight, four 
men - the heir to an earldom, a Harley Street doctor, a Bond Street art dealer and 
an Oxford don - find themselves penniless. But this time Harvey has swindled the 
wrong men. They band together and shadow him from the casinos of Monte Carlo 
to the high-stakes windows at Ascot and the hallowed lawns of Oxford.Their plan is
simple: to sting the crook for axactly what they lost. To the penny.

Since its first publication in 1978, this book got reprinted 57 times. And it is
probably needing some more reprinting. Never really out of fashion, always good to
read in hindsight of all those smaller and bigger financial scams, it is - as can be
expected - in bigger demand again.

And another classic of this genre:
P. G. Wodehouse:
Do Butlers Burgle Banks?
Situated as it was in a prosperous county town, Bond's Bank had long enjoyed the respectful
confidence of its clients. But when Mike inherited the Bank from his late uncle, Sir Hugo, he was 
shocked to find that, thanks to the prodigal benevolence of his predecessor, the Bank was many
thousands short in the kitty. Time was needed to make up the defalcations, but, as ill luck would 
have it, the Bank Examiners were due immediately to go over the Bank's books. The prospect of 
gaol loomed large. "Unless", said Mike desperately, "some kindly burglar takes it into his head to 
burgle the bank before the Examiners arrive, I'm for it."

It was with no such altruistic thought that, coincidentally, Horace the gentlemanly gangster, had 
indeed planned such an enterprise, but strictly for the benefit of himself and his deserving 
colleagues,  Ferdie the Fly, and Basher, the safe expert. To further his plans, Horace took a job 
as butler to the Bond residence where, inspired by her superlative cooking, he fell in love with Ada, 
Mike's secretary; and as with other ardent lovers before him, the pure flame of love changed his 
motives— if not his intentions. And all might have been well, but for the well meant endeavours of 
Jill, Mike's sprightly fiancee, the intervention of Charlie the Chicago gangster and the suspicions of 
Potter, the hard-faced man from Scotland Yard. All these events, and what eventually fell out, are 
faithfully chronicled in this highly diverting novel by the inimitable P. G. 

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